What are the benefits of fluoride for people with diabetes?

Fluoride decreases the risk of cavities. Diabetics tend to have more dental cavities, a greater risk of gum disease, and other oral health complications, and therefore need to pay very close attention to their mouth. Using fluoride makes tooth enamel stronger, reducing demineralization and also helping healing through a process called remineralization. Enamel erodes from any meal or drink that is acidic, which softens the enamel. The acid created from the sugars in your diet by plaque leads to demineralization of the enamel, and eventually to cavities. If left untreated, demineralization can literally eat away the tooth, eventually causing tooth loss.

Small amounts of fluoride are present in about two-thirds of the community drinking water in the US. This has been a huge public health endeavor. Fluoride toothpaste has also dramatically reduced cavities, and fluoride mouthwashes are helpful to prevent cavities by promoting remineralization. Although rare, too much fluoride can cause fluorosis where teeth become very discolored. This can be corrected by restorative procedures. It is best to brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and rinse with the recommended dose once daily for most fluoride mouthwashes.

There are no safety problems with ingesting fluoridated water if you have diabetes. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that fluoridated water has no harmful health effects on communities in general. But it is important to point out that this is a controversial topic for people with diabetes and chronic kidney disease (CKD) and more studies are needed. However, there is some evidence that suggests that people with advanced stages of CKD (stage 4 or 5) who drink substances with high levels of fluoride might be at a higher risk of developing the condition known as fluorosis. People with CKD might need to consult their doctors to see if drinking bottled water without fluoride could help protect them. Fluoride is present in most toothpaste formulations and there are no warnings for people with diabetics on those labels.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.